I have been so disheartened by the election results, and even more so every day since January 20th. I do not have the words to adequately articulate these times, so I turn to Idle Time favorite Joe Henry. He writes:
I have not read ‘Art Of The Deal,’ but have heard its synopsis by the “author,” and now witness its bizarre theatre enacted on our national stage: make an extravagant push of extremes –while flash pots deploy, distracting your negotiating advisory and leaving them to feel unmoored, hurried and vulnerable; and as the overreach is walked back, your advisory will believe themselves to have made “progress;” and will in the end gratefully settle for far less than they’d have ever first been willing even to imagine.
Is this what is happening to us now?
If so, we are about to learn whether ours truly is a country rooted by a constitution, or ruled by the whims of an autonomous regime, with its own moving agenda to which we are neither privy nor free to challenge –and of which we will never be beneficiaries.
Volatile as are these waters that toss around our little ship of state today, I assume it shall be revealed very soon whether or not our national craft is sustainable. But this much is clear right now: the storm threatening us is man-made, and means indeed to draw us silently under its loud and cold wave. We are at sea and at siege.
Are we really the country we advertise and think ourselves to be? It certainly would not be the first time we have fallen short: suggesting to the world that we are righteous while acting wholly to the contrary (see: treatment of Native Americans; our history of slavery, etc., for a quick primer) –and in fact, this disparity might well prove one of our most historically consistent characteristics.
“Today we give the power back to the people,” the man read out from his inaugural podium not two weeks ago….
People of mine, I ask you: how empowered do you feel in the wake of the last 48 hours?
Administration, I wonder: how much blood will you spill, how many of our customary rights are you willing to shred in order to realize your wet dream of ultimate, arrogant, and unmetered wealth and authority?
Self, I insist on knowing: how prepared are you to act when facing that of which you are most afraid?
Regardless of the name you call out as God’s, the creative driver of our existence is never not present –hence the continued resonance of stories of desolate mangers, dank lions’ dens, lives becoming transformed and made luminous in solitary jail cells and whale bellies….
And if we believe any of it –our lives being witnessed and engaged by “God”– we must, then, embrace all of it: darkness existing not in opposition to light, but as the very thing that fundamentally defines it.
“What if this darkness is not the dark of the tomb, but of the womb?” I just heard Valarie Kaur muse out loud.
I’m thinking this hour that this has ALWAYS been the question –and ours, each, to answer daily.
In honor all those who will resist and protest we have chosen this month’s theme to be our favorite Protest Songs. It is now more important than ever for each of us to avoid retreating to meaningless activities because, as Joe H states, “…those who would bully and bum-rush us past our better angels would love nothing more than for those who disagree with the program to simply collapse –quit the scene and disappear. We will not. We will instead, each of us, lean into whatever is our small work to do in this big world.”
1. “Strange Fruit” – Billie Holiday
recorded and released in 1939
2. “Let Me Die in My Footsteps” – Bob Dylan
recorded in 1962, but not released until 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991
3. “A Change Is Gonna Come” – Sam Cooke
from Ain’t That Good News (1964)
4. “Ohio” – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
released as a single (1970)
5. “Man in Black” – Johnny Cash
from Man in Black (1971)
6. “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)” – Marvin Gaye
from What’s Going On (1971)
7. “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” – X-Ray Spex
released as a single (1977)
8. “Redemption Song” – Bob Marley & The Wailers
from Uprising (1980)
9. “Straight to Hell (Live)” – The Clash
1982 live performance released on Rockers Galore (2000); original song from Combat Rock (1982)
10. “This Land Is Your Land (Live)” – Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
from Live/1975-85 (1986) covering a song by Woody Guthrie (1944)
11. “Help Save the Youth of America” – Billy Bragg
from Talking with the Taxman About Poetry (1986)
12. “Guerrilla Radio” – Rage Against the Machine
from The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)
13. “Loyal to My Sorrowful Country (Sharkbite version)” – Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
from Sharkbite Sessions (2005)
14. “Slow Down Gandhi” – Sage Francis
from A Healthy Distrust (2005)
15. “Call To Arms” – Sturgill Simpson
from A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016)
Hi-Fi Fifteen is a callback to the “5 in 5” playlist game that MMDG, holybee, and djlazybear used to play on their lunchbreak. They’re all in different professions now, and don’t even live in the same counties, but quickly throwing together playlists on rotating themes is still fun as hell.